Thursday, July 26, 2007
Keeping the World Away
Keeping the World Away, by Margaret Forster, is a book about a painting and the women whose lives it touches. I really enjoyed reading this novel. It is beautifully written, detailed yet spare at the same time. I am not a particular fan of short stories and this book is told from multiple points of view which sometimes presents a difficulty to me. I prefer to become absorbed in one story, and often books written in this manner feel 'choppy' to me; I find it stressful to keep having to 'begin again' with new characters every so often. Forster cleverly ties each woman's story together, which results in a very cohesive tale. Each woman in the novel has a rich inner life and enjoys her solitude which is not regarded as loneliness. I could really relate to this, being an introvert myself. A short passage from the book:
She had begun to see the point of there being no overt human presence in that room-people were disturbances. It was only possible to be tranquil if there were no people around.
I found myself thinking a lot about the cover of this book. The photograph above is the American edition, I do like it and feel it relates well to the content of the book. However, I wondered why the painting being written about was not on the cover.
This book reminded me quite a bit of Susan Vreeland's novel Girl in Hyacinth Blue. This is also a story of a painting, albeit imaginary, and the people whose lives it comes into.